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How great companies develop their staff – Pixar

Finally, a movie-company to round these case studies off. Pixar was originally bought by Georg Lucas, then taken over by Steve Jobs and is now part of Disney. Over the years, Pixar has pioneered innovation in technology and screen design and won several awards, including many Oscars. The company lives from its talent pool of creative and technical experts.

In a presentation on Pixar’s approach, Randy Nelson highlighted their hiring and cultural strategy. Since Pixar is dealing with creative products, they take a slice from improve-theater. There are two rules there which translate well into the world of corporate creativity: accept everything that someone comes up with, and make your partner look good.

To support this approach, Pixar is looking for a value-fit in its hiring by hiring fitting people:

  • Ultra-nerds – People with depth in their expertise and mastery over a subject, which must not be job-related. It shows them the structure of personality they are looking for.
  • Communication and collaboration – the ability to translate thoughts and ideas into language that other people understand as well as the attitude to amplify each other’s efforts.
  • Failure and recovery – one of the key skills in innovation is the ability to recover from failure and find a way where few people have been before.

All this works together by having the values clear and making them the integrative force in hiring and building the culture.


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